Clearly then, it is important to properly insulate these supports and this means looking carefully at the thermal properties of the insert you are using. In the past, wooden block support inserts were commonly used for this purpose. However, BS 5970:2012 now clearly states that these “should not be used”. To understand why, we need to look at the material’s thermal conductivity.
Thermal conductivity (also known as lambda value) is the measure of how easily heat passes through a material through the process of conduction. Materials with low thermal conductivities are more resistant to this type of heat transfer and therefore make better insulators.
Wood was originally used as its thermal conductivity is much lower than that of exposed steel clips. However, its performance is still several orders of magnitude worse than that of modern insulation materials. One alternative is to use inserts featuring rock mineral wool. Whilst these offer improved performance relative to wood, a significant thickness of insulation is still required in order to meet most system performance requirements. This can hamper installations and may even mean that service spaces need to be expanded to provide sufficient room.
To address this, our Kooltherm Insulated Pipe Support Inserts use a rigid phenolic insulation core which offers leading thermal performance. This can help to address thermal bridging through the support with a slim insert thickness – saving vital space. They form a complete system in combination with Kooltherm Pipe Insulation, ensuring excellent continuity of insulation throughout the system and meeting the recommendation within BS 5970:2012 that “load bearing pipe supports be of the same material, or compatible with, the thermal insulation on the pipework”.
How much of an impact can different pipe support inserts have on heat loss?
To understand how the pipe support specifications can affect the performance of above ambient temperature systems, we carried out a thermal analysis of a +75°C Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW) system to BS EN ISO 10211: 2017
. The analysis looked at four separate specifications:
- Kooltherm Insulated Pipe Support Inserts
- Rubber lined clip fixed to pipe
- Metal clip fixed to the pipe
- Wooden block pipe support insert